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Superbug spreads in Delhi sewers

Superbug spreads in Delhi sewers

* 14:55 07 April 2011 by Debora MacKenzie
* For similar stories, visit the Micro-organisms and Genetics Topic Guides

A gene that makes bacteria invulnerable to many antibiotics, including drugs of last resort, has just got a lot scarier. It was thought to pose a threat mainly in hospitals, but it has now been found in sewers and drinking water in India's capital, New Delhi.

And it is likely to be much more widespread than that. The gene has already invaded germs that cause cholera, dysentery and other major infections, and can jump readily among bacteria in the conditions of India's monsoon season.

Surveys are desperately needed to find out where it has gone and what bacteria carry it, say researchers. But political backlash in India has made it hard for scientists based in the country to do so – for instance, the water samples for the current study were collected by a journalist for the British TV programme Channel 4 News, not academic researchers.

The NDM-1 gene codes for an enzyme that destroys all but one antibiotic in a class called beta-lactams. These include the carbapenems, some of which still work against other antibiotic-resistant bacteria and are therefore used as last-ditch treatments – but they won't work against NDM-1.

The gene was discovered in 2009 at the University of Cardiff, UK, in a Swede who had had medical treatment in India. Last August the same team found it in 37 more people in the UK who had had surgery in India, Pakistan or Bangladesh.
Medical tourism

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria tend to emerge in hospitals, where the drugs are heavily used, so the discovery was widely reported as a threat to western "medical tourists" who get healthcare in India. Now, however, the Cardiff team reports that NDM-1 is in bacteria from 2 per cent of tap water samples and 30 per cent of street puddles from across New Delhi. Because DNA in the samples had degraded, the researchers say the true prevalence is probably much higher.

It is also unlikely to be in New Delhi alone. "We know it is in patients in Mumbai and Chennai, and I have good information that it is in Calcutta," says Tim Walsh of the Cardiff team, now at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. People in Pakistan and Bangladesh also had bacteria with the gene, he says. "It is probably widespread in the environment across south Asia."

"If a woman gets a urinary tract infection with NDM-1, it is untreatable," he says, because the only two antibiotics that defeat NDM-1 don't affect the urinary tract. GlaxoSmithKline has a drug that defeats NDM-1 in development but it won't be ready for several years, "and in several years we'll need 10 drugs that work against it, not one", adds Walsh.
Escape route

Similar antibiotic-resistance genes mostly stay in hospitals, says Mark Toleman at the University of Cardiff. But NDM-1 escaped on a plasmid – a small mobile chunk of DNA – carried by the common gut bacterium Escherichia coli, which is shed in faeces.

The plasmid also carries a toxin that forces bacteria to acquire it, plus several other antibiotic-resistance genes. The team found that a wide range of bacteria, including important human pathogens such as cholera and Shigella, readily pick up the plasmid at 30 ºC, a common temperature during the Indian monsoon season. To make matters worse, sewers also flood during the monsoon.

Clean water and sanitation would help to limit human exposure to the bacteria, say Walsh and Toleman.

Research to track where the gene has gone would also help. But there was a political uproar in India after the team's August paper, because reports of NDM-1 were said to threaten the medical tourism industry. "The Indian scientists who worked with us on our last paper were told bluntly not to work on NDM-1 again," says Walsh.

Mohammed Shahid of Aligarh Muslim University, India, is looking for NDM-1 in faecal and environmental samples nevertheless. "The situation is not miserable," he says, but the threat of international spread of the plasmid "is real and should not be ignored".


http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20352-superb


Added: Apr-7-2011 Occurred On: Apr-7-2011
By: RepConTilDeath
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Tags: bacteria, microorganisms, india
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  • I did a story on antibiotic resistant bacteria back in 1995 and interviewed Dr Don Lo of Mount Sinai General Hospital in Toronto. He was at the forefront of the fight against it at the time.
    Scary shit.
    He said this evolution was unavoidable and would be worse in third world countries in the years to come because of poor controls of antibiotic use and disposal --- and sanitation.
    Apparently it's a man-made evolution too.
    Give a rat a little bit of poison, not enough to kill it, and it eventually More..

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • I remember reading projections concerning this back in the 70's. There was a short lived PSA about disposal and misuse of antibiotic/antibacterial's in the 80's. This is why UV treatment is an essential for 'modern' water systems. There is a book, I believe it is 'Snakes In My Garden', an interesting bio of a herpetoligist who became somewhat immune to cobra venom. My main concern, here in the U.S., is just how many birth control pills have I inadvertantly ingested!

      You people need to take m More..

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • All plants and insects become immune to any pesticide and insectide used on them over time........... crazy stuff, I wonder if in ten years we can build an immunty to radation lol...........

      Or what about all the drugs people are being prescribed, used, then passed in the sewer treatment plant where they are UNABLE to dilute them and then reintroduced to te public drinking water...... That is in fact happening. And I'm not talking about floride either.,............

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • If you start to grow a nice set of tits, send me a pic, eh?

      :P



      LOL

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • Yep.
      People not finishing their pills so the bugs in them survive and mutate or flushing old prescriptions down the toilet was a big problem, still is, I'd think.
      I can only imagine what pharmaceutical companies did with their old stuff back in the 50's and 60's.

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • Hear no evil

      Speak no evil

      Know no evil


      The puppets only fear what their told to fear and when to be afriad of it, It's a script kinda like the ones in movies or reality shows and all very well orcastrated.........

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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  • Yeah, I read about this the other day,,,,,not a place you want to get sick in.....

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • Exactly,our governments let these third world filthy,dirty South Asians,Africans and middle eastern vermin into western society spreading filth and unwanted multiculture in our communities with people who refuse to assimilate. What happened to the original immigration of Europeans who we are all decendants of,not the garbage our governments let in by the train load now.

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • you mean the murderous genocidal liars that stole this land by killing the people that fed them through the winters they would have otherwise died in,and then bringing these same new diseases to this land which killed even more for not 'assimilating' and even the ones that did were forced to leave their farms and homes and go to POW camps now called reservations... then went on to killing and then putting the more manageable into POW camps? That's the filth and the same people that's running sh More..

      Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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    • You want to go all the way back to the 1800's to condem the founding Europeans who made America what it is today,sure what the "white man" did to the indigenous people of the United States was wrong and so was slavery that was started by the Europeans and brought here,I have nothing but respect for all indigenous people wherever they reside,Alska,Hawaii,South America,Mexico etc. They are the true original countrymen but we are speaking about present day,and a world of more educated and More..

      Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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    • ohhhh its all in the past you say huh? that makes it better for me living in texas in 2011..i have been harrassed by police here weekly in broad daylight riding a bicycle for ''suspicion of being an illegal immigrant''...so thats in the past because its not right now as i type... you know what...never mind i just have to add you to the ''wrote off as too well preprogrammed'' list...have a nice fantasy and enjoy the washington redskins and dont fuck around and use chief to any of us outside of a More..

      Posted Apr-9-2011 By 

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    • you did nothing good for this land---your kind has been a blight from the start bringing disease death torture and misery for us...and you think that is somehow a great achievement - your forefathers have poisoned this land and are still doing it. they are now on a worldwide conquest of all places with non-white people and lots of oil. there is nothing to be happy about in your arrival here or your so-called ''tech-no-logic'' displays that are nothing but toxic smoke...not only have your kind ki More..

      Posted Apr-9-2011 By 

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  • Ironically by using antibiotics you kill of all of this strand of bacterias competition which leads to this bacteria thriving.

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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  • "...the threat of international spread of the plasmid "is real and should not be ignored".

    It's bloody well inevitable! Here it comes people!

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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  • LOL and see no Evil, you Fosho not gunna see that shit in the water.......

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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  • Comment of user 'just_a_musing' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • The world is simply dying!

    Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • Looks like it's gonna take us with it. If it's not radiation or earthquakes the damned germs will get us.
      No where to run to, no where to hide.

      Posted Apr-7-2011 By 

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    • Not really, just organisms multiplying in extremely dirty unclean sewers.

      Also, weren't you saying global warming is a hoax in another video? Don't you believe the world is perfect?

      Strange contradictions, but I guess I expected as much from you WE.

      Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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    • I will excuse your ignorance and explain to you.

      1.) No I don't think the world is perfect. I never said that.

      2.) I do NOT believe in man made global warming. As soon as you can explain what melted the 1 mile thick ice sheets in the Midwest we can discuss naturally occurring climate change. The fossil history is full of climate change evidence.

      3.) I believe the world is dying because of sin. Earthquakes in diverse places, uncontrolled diseases, violence, fearful people, wars, rumors More..

      Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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    • Ah! Sin!

      Not scientifically proven global warming, but sin eh?

      An unproveable strike against god is the cause of the worlds problems...

      Sir, have you ever been to a museum and seen the dinosaur fossils?

      Best, DC

      Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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  • India lacks proper sewage and sanitation industries....anyone with more intimate knowledge of these industries could make a killing out there...

    Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

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  • India lacks proper sewage and sanitation industries....anyone with more intimate knowledge of these industries could make a killing out there...

    Posted Apr-8-2011 By 

    (-1) | Report